The Case for Funding Grassroots Organizations
When I started actively giving away my money around 10 years ago, I didn’t quite know where to start. As a female entrepreneur that started a fashion line designed for women, it was only natural that I would support other women, but how? Supporting women can mean so many things. Funding medical research, providing business skills, delivering first aid to women in need overseas. And if I do fund women, how do I know the money I’m giving away actually reaches those who need it?
I was struck by an article I read in Marie Claire Magazine profiling an organization called Women Thrive (now Women Thrive Alliance). Their work made sense to me. They identify impactful grassroots organizations in countries around the world that have proven effective in their work to catalyze and mobilize women to effect change. This network of local organizations is given resources, education, and an online community for their members (female and male!) to connect and serve as agents of change to their local and national governments.
Take Anita who is actively fighting for Sustainable Development Goal 5 in Sierra Leone, a country where the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still considered ‘normal.’ Because she is an Alliance member, Anita was able to co-organize a workshop for other advocates in her country. Over 50 advocates and journalists were trained on how to be more effective in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) because of the resources given to them by Women Thrive.
As you can imagine, this type of training not only brings change at the national level, but also has a huge ripple effect in local communities. Women are being given voices in parts of the world where women’s voices are rarely heard, in government and in the home. And who better to identify the needs of women in these communities than the women themselves!
Now this kind of work isn’t always sexy, nor is it always easy to explain. It doesn’t come with a tangible 1 for 1 model that people have become accustomed to these days. The work of grassroots organizations supported by Women Thrive Alliance is changing lives from the inside out. Woman by woman. Community by community. This approach takes time and diligence, but it’s how real systems change happens.
In addition to your traditional giving, I encourage you to think outside the box. Who are the lesser known organizations affecting meaningful change from the inside out? I was lucky enough to open up that Marie Claire article 10 years ago, and little did I know then that it would change the trajectory of my giving. What will that moment be for you?
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved with Women Thrive Alliance, check out their ’20 Years Thriving’ campaign at https://womenthrive.nationbuilder.com/20-years-thriving-challenge.
— Suzanne Lerner
The Huffington Post
November 20, 2017